Two Western Pennsylvania churches were among 31 churches around the world that were awarded grants totaling $75,000 from the United Methodist Committee on Older Adult Ministries (OAM) to support Aging in Poverty ministry programs.
The Aging in Poverty grants seek to address a core issue in the mission of The United Methodist Church concerning worldwide poverty, said William Randolph, director of the Office on Aging and Older Adult Ministries at Discipleship Ministries.
“Our focus was to be in partnership with churches in developing creative programs to not only address the issue of poverty short term through direct aid, but to address the root causes of poverty, particularly hidden poverty,” Randolph said.
All of the grant recipients have a component in their plans to address long-term poverty through education and to comprehensively address “not only financial poverty, but also spiritual and cultural poverty,” Randolph said.
“Examples of hidden poverty in the older adult population that were addressed by creative approaches proposed by grant recipients include rural poverty, health and wellness poverty, food insecurity, drug and alcohol addiction poverty and transportation poverty,” he said.
Programs receiving the grants focused not just on ministry to older adults living in poverty, but also with older adult volunteers performing the ministry, Randolph said.
In Western Pennsylvania, Hopewell UMC Meal Ministry received $2500 to aid it's program that provides weekday food delivery to 40 seniors. "This is a remarkable ministry, said Randolph. "I love the fact that seniors are ministering to seniors."
Manorville UMC also received a $2500 grant for its Ramps of Hope program. "There is no place like home," Randolph said. "Putting ramps on the homes of elderly will increase their mobility and accessibility to their homes."
The Committee on Older Adult Ministries selected grant applications it felt could easily be adapted or duplicated by other churches. “We wanted programs that could be ‘pioneer programs’ and blaze a trail other churches could follow,” Randolph said.
Although only $75,000 of grant money was available, applications seeking $188,554 from 61 churches were received by the committee, and more than 50 percent of them received funding. Three grants were awarded in the North Central Jurisdiction, four in the Northeastern Jurisdiction, two in the South Central Jurisdiction, 16 in the Southeastern Jurisdiction, two in the Western Jurisdiction and four in the Central Conferences.
In the Central Conference, the Light & Life UMC in the Philippines received a grant to a program providing health and wellness, financial education and spiritual care support for older adults in an area with sustained medical poverty. The area also was severely damaged by a recent typhoon. “The Aging in Poverty Committee gave more money than was requested because a little money goes a long way in this setting,” Randolph said.
OAM and Discipleship Ministries made the grants, which allow clergy and lay leaders to address issues that ordinarily could not be addressed through their church's current budget, for the fourth consecutive quadrennium.